Trends in Female Criminality
Is crime still a man’s world?


Some questions
Has women’s participation in crime increased in the past 30 years?

Does the liberation thesis explain increases in women’s prison populations?

How do [any] increases compare to that of men?

Are women behaving more like men?

How do we know what we know?

Increases seem to be apparent for women in DUI, larceny, minor thefts and fraud

Limitations in data preclude many comparisons

Serious crime still largely male territory

Arrests for crime that females typically commit has increased overall

FP/A has increased in some areas, decreased in others

Similar social and legal forces underlie the arrest rates for both sexes, independent of any condition unique to women or so-called “women’s crimes.”

The “widening of the net” accounts for most over-time increases

Women’s involvement
Drug offenses
Robberies, assaults
All violent offenses
Weapons violations
Minor offenses
Prison populations

Interpret this statistic:
According to UCR statistics, the female share of arrests has increased for several violent offenses, most notably for misdemeanor assault but also for felony assault.

Explaining women’s crime

Early explanations of crime

The tired “nature v. nurture” dichotomy

Lombroso and “masculinized” women

Freud and penis envy

Sociological theories
Social disorganization
Differential association
Male based and biased

Hybrid:  Pollak
Women are inherently deceitful

Contemporary explanations
Law and the organizational management of crime

Net widening and changes in law

Gender equality and emancipation

Increased economic marginalization

Increased inner-city disorganization

Expanded opportunities for female-type crime

Changes in the underworld

Trends in drug dependency

Crime prevention programs targeting male offenders

Interactive systems…
Opportunity can amplify motivation

Being able tends to make one more willing, and vice versa

So… what do we know? Gender makes different criminals

Blurred boundaries between victims and offenders happen more for women

Women are generally excluded from most lucrative criminal opportunities

Women can exploit sex as both an end and a strategy

Women are constrained by motherhood and child care

Women are more concerned with relations

Women are (perceived to be) more in need of protection

Gendered model of female offending and gender differences in crime
Key elements
Organization of gender
Norms, identities, arrangements, institutions, relations

Gendered contexts
Meanings, interpretations, “gestalt”

Gendered pathways
Routes to crime different